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Study finds that pollution from wood burning outweighs low traffic emission gains

Study finds that pollution from wood burning outweighs low traffic emission gains

A new study has revealed the extent of air pollution caused by wood burning.

The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive states that, by 2020, 20% of the energy it uses must be from renewable sources. Member States have been launching their own initiatives to encourage residents to contribute to this effort.

These include schemes that promote using renewable fuels, including wood, for heating. While burning wood is a renewable source, it is also a source of air pollution, which is damaging to lung health.

The new study analysed current levels of wood burning ahead of the launch of new initiatives in London, UK. Researchers measured the levels of particulate matter (PM)10 in London, UK between 2009 and 2011. PM is a form of air pollution and PM10 is a specific type of particulate matter that measures less than 10 micrometres in size. It can cause damage to the lungs and is given off by wood burning.

The results found that wood burning was responsible for 5% of total PM10 pollution. To put this result in context, the researchers said that this was over six times greater than the average reduction in air pollution predicted from the first two phases of the London Low Emission Zone programme in 2008, a scheme that targets heavy-polluting diesel vehicles in the city.

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Read the original study.

Find out more about outdoor air pollution on our web pages.

Photo credit: fastily, CC BY SA